| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Jan 15 Law firm Jones Day is hosting a
conference for Puerto Rico bond holders and other investors on
Thursday, focusing on the outlook for the indebted U.S.
territory, including the potential for a restructuring of around
$70 billion of its outstanding debt.
The speakers will include Timothy Coleman, who leads the
restructuring and reorganization group at Blackstone, the
world's largest alternative asset manager.
Jones Day Partner Bruce Bennett will also speak. Bennett is
considered one of the top municipal bankruptcy lawyers in the
United States. Bennett and his colleague, David Heiman, were in
charge of Detroit's day-to-day legal strategy after that city
filed for bankruptcy. Bennett also represented Orange County,
California, when it filed for bankruptcy in 1994.
Around 200 participants, including hedge funds invested in
Puerto Rico, will attend Thursday's event in New York, according
to Jones Day partner Scott Greenberg. Greenberg declined to say
who exactly would be attending.
Alfredo Salazar, a former head of Puerto Rico's Government
Development Bank, as well as a former head of the Economic
Development Administration, will also speak at the event.
The government in Puerto Rico said it was aware of the
meeting but said that it was not attending, calling it "not
unusual" and "part of the normal investment process."
"We made significant progress in implementing our fiscal and
economic development plans in 2013, and are determined to
continue that progress in 2014," the Government Development Bank
and the Department of Treasury said in a joint statement.
"As we have stated publicly in the past, Puerto Rico will
take every step necessary to continue honoring its obligations,"
the statement said.
Puerto Rico issued the statement after a Financial Times
article, citing anonymous sources, said creditors would meet
with debt restructuring specialists on Thursday as a moratorium
on debt payments "appears increasingly likely." The Financial
Times did not cite the Jones Day meeting by name.
Interest in Puerto Rico has grown exponentially since yields
on its bonds soared last year amid concerns about its struggling
economy and high debt loads. Cumberland Advisors held a similar
meeting for investors on Tuesday.
Many speakers at the Cumberland event, including ratings
agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor's, said a default was not
likely in the short term but said there were concerns about the
longer term outlook for the economy given high unemployment and
a shrinking population.
"There is still some runway here, a decent amount of
runway," said Greenberg, referring to the possibility of a
default on the Puerto Rico's debt.